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Dunn County takes over Killdeer airport; creates authority board to oversee it

MANNING -- The Killdeer airport will now belong to Dunn County after the County Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the transfer of the facility and its funds from the city at a meeting in the courthouse in Manning.

In a meeting last week with Killdeer city officials, Commissioner Donna Scott said the

city agreed to give the county authority over the airport.

"But we made it clear that the county does not want to run the airport," she said. "The goal is for the airport to be self-governing."

To do that, the commission established a five-member, term-limited Airport Authority from a pool of about 10 candidates who were asked if they would like to serve on the board.

From that list of names, the commissioners' selected Dunn County residents Steve Quintus, who will serve a four-year term, John Dolezal, who will serve a three-year term, Jason Hutchinson, who will serve a two-year term, and Levi Bang, who will serve a one-year term.

Clarence Schollmeyer, a Killdeer engineer and licensed pilot, will serve a five-year term as chairman of the Airport Authority.

Schollmeyer said he will notify the candidates and schedule a meeting for next week to begin an airport master plan that will include necessary construction projects, like a runway overlay and laying out a timeline for completion of projects.

The Airport Authority also will conduct a feasibility study, which it could pay for using $42,000 that Killdeer has set aside for the airport.

"The airport was originally donated to the county by a former banker," Schollmeyer said. "In the deed, it said that if the county ever decided not to operate it, they had to give it to the city of Killdeer, which they eventually did."

Unfortunately, the airport went unused by the city, Schollmeyer said.

"It was officially closed by the (Federal Aviation Administration) several years ago, but it will be open again, starting next week after the Airport Authority meets," he said.

The plans are for the airport to accommodate private planes.

Twelve individuals, including Schollmeyer, have signed statements of intent to base their planes at the airport.

Although it will be capable of operating regional airplane carriers, Schollmeyer said it will not be used for that.

The county will have the ability to levy up to 4 mills to be used for the airport's operation.

When Commissioner Daryl Dukart asked Schollmeyer for advice on how much to levy, Schollmeyer said he would advise the Airport Authority ask for as much as it could from the start while they work to get the airport fully functioning and creating its own revenue source.

Schollmeyer said the Airport Authority will want to look into bringing other amenities to the airport, such as restaurants, hotels and fuel service.

"The Airport Authority will be able to lease land out to these kinds of things to help them develop a potential cash flow through leases with these types of businesses," he said. "There will also be rental office, bulk airplane space, and an area for a car rental franchise to come in. I think this area needs an airport and all of the things that could come with it. If we have a nice, modern facility, there won't be any problem getting people to use it."